Child labour in Asia and the Pacific

The latest ILO Global report on Child Labour found that the number of working children under the age of 15 years in Asia and the Pacific declined by 5 million to 122.3 million from 2000 to 2004. Despite this positive development, the region still faces major challenges. The number of working children in Asia Pacific is by far the largest in the world and represents 18.8 per cent of the 650 million 5-14 year-olds in the region. Furthermore, progress in eliminating child labour is still modest compared to progress in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Many worst forms of child labour are still important concerns, including child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, bonded child labour, child domestic work, hazardous child labour and the recruitment and use of children for armed conflict or drug trafficking. A high tolerance for child labour in many countries and political volatility and conflict in certain others exacerbate the problem and has hindered the implementation of action against it. In addition, a large number of children in areas affected by natural disasters are vulnerable to entering child labour.

Strategies such as capacity building for social partners and IPEC implementing agencies, advocacy for adherence and implementation of ILO Conventions, awareness raising of the public and target groups and focused direct assistance are slowly but surely making inroads into the child labour problem. Awareness and support for the eradication of child labour in a comprehensive manner is on the rise. Seven countries in the region have set time-bound targets to end selected worst form of child labour and national time-bound programme projects are now being implemented to help reach these.

IPEC works to mainstream child labour into government policies, strategies, plans and budgets. Child labour issues have been included in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan, and mainstreaming is being pursued in other countries, such as the Philippines and Viet Nam. There are efforts to integrate child labour and trafficking concerns into Education for All initiatives in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

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